While the Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka is facing crisis of existence from within, at the same time, the party is hoping to make the best of the temporary political turmoil in Goa.
Trouble for the 110 day Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka does not seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. The revolt within the Congress raised by the Jarkiholi brothers of Belagavi region has created a major flutter not only in the Karnataka state Congress but has also forced the party high command in Delhi to swing into action.
The Congress turmoil in Karnataka has reached such a situation that even the veteran Congress state leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah failed to quell the rebellion.
If reports are to be believed, the rebellion led by Congress minister, Ramesh Jarkiholi and his brother, has the support of sizable number of MLAs from the party – enough to topple the KD Kumaraswamy government. The Jarkiholi brothers are peeved with the actions of the newly elected MLA and state Mahila Congress president Lakshmi Hebbalkar and state’s Water Resources minister DK Shivakumar in the Belagavi region where they have had a very significant clout for over two decades now.
But why are the Congress and the JD(S) worried about the rebellion?
There have been rumours making the rounds that the Jarkiholi brothers enjoy the support of 18 Congress MLAs – mostly from the Belagavi region. This number is the real cause of worry for both the Congress and the JD(S). The KD Kumaraswamy government is backed by 117 MLAs from the Congress and the JD(S) which is just over the required majority of 113 in the 224 seat Karnataka Assembly. If what the Jarkiholi brothers are claiming about support of MLAs is true, and if the rebellion does actually take place with all of them pulling out of the Congress and withdrawing support for the government, it would be enough to topple the Kumaraswamy government. Currently, the Congress has 78 seats in the Assembly while the JD(S) has 39 MLAs.
The BJP in Karnataka apparently is very keen to gobble up the opportunity presented to them by the Congress infighting. BJP, with 104 MLAs in the Karnataka assembly can easily form the government if the 18 Congress MLAs leave the party and decide to either support or join the BJP – notwithstanding them passing through the anti defection spectrum. It has been reported that the BJP is making all efforts to reap benefit from Congress’ internal rebellion – to the extent that the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, BS Yeddyurappa announced on Tuesday that the Congress leader who would be able to coax the highest number of rebel Congress MLAs to support the BJP would be made the Deputy Chief Minister.
The Karnataka feud remained unsolved when this article was being written.
On the other hand, the Congress finds itself in a completely opposite position in Goa following the state’s chief minister Manohar Parrikar leaving the state for treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi.
A section of the senior Congress in the state appealed to the MLAs, including those from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), to support its claim to form the government. The state legislative party submitted a memorandum to the office of Governor Mridula Sinha staking claim to form the government.
“Manohar Parrikar has lost the moral right to continue in office and the governor should dismiss this government and invite the Congress to form the government. The Assembly must not be dissolved, which would mean imposing another election on the people within 18 months, when we all have been elected for five years,” the memorandum said.
Just like the BJP in Karnataka, Congress is the largest party in the 40 member Goa Assembly with 16 MLAs but was kept out of power by the BJP through a coalition just as the Congress later did to it in Karnataka.
According to a press statement by Chella Kumar, the Goa in-charge of the Congress, the party is in touch with alliance partners of the NDA. He said that the Congress does not want the assembly to be dissolved. “We are the single largest party in the state and we must get a chance to form the government if we are confident of our numbers,” he said.
BJP now rules the state with 14 MLAs with support from the Maharashtravadi Gomantak Party and Goa Forward Party each with 3 MLAs. The Goa Assembly has three independent MLAs and one MLA of the Nationalist Congress Party.
It remains to be seen therefore whether the Congress is able to hold on to Karnataka or make gains in Goa.